Solar power for all

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For the Gazette
Published: 1/26/2020 10:37:12 PM
Modified: 1/26/2020 10:36:57 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Renewable energy being generated from a community solar farm constructed on a section of a former gravel pit on Ryan Road is being offered to National Grid’s residential and commercial customers in the city.

“This makes solar power much more available to the general public,” said Lorena Tavlarios, managing director for Con Edison Solutions’ Behind the Meter Renewables program.

The 4.3-megawatt project was built on a portion of the 200-acre site that for almost a century was home to the Bill Willard Inc. sand and gravel pit. The project is on about 40 acres, with the arrays covering about 20 acres and the remaining 20 undeveloped acres returned to the city.

Tavlarios said renters and others who otherwise wouldn’t be able to install solar panels on their properties can tap into the green energy source.

“This directly communicates that solar is an available option,” Tavlarios said. “They know they can count on it.”

Electricity generated at the solar farm is supplied to National Grid. Customers who sign up receive a credit on their electricity bill, saving up to 10%, said Christine Nevin, the business and media relations director for Con Edison.

They are committed to a one-year subscription, with no initiation or cancellation fees.

“There’s a lot of room for opportunity for whatever the customer needs power for,” Nevin said.

The solar field can produce up to 7,280 megawatt hours annually, said Samantha Qualls, a spokeswoman for Con Edison Solutions. That is the equivalent of offsetting the release of 8 million pounds of carbon, or removing 760 cars from the road, she noted.

The company is still signing up subscribers. Even though the site is ready to deliver energy, that will only happen when a sufficient base of residents and businesses are signed up, Qualls said.

Tavlarios said that such community farms are being developed by her company in other areas, with 15 sites being looked at in states including New York and Illinois.

For more information about community solar farm, visit conedsolutions.com/CommunitySolar/

Staff writer Scott Merzbach contributed to this report.


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